Bhopal, Jan 5 (PTI) The Madhya Pradesh Cabinet Saturday gave its nod to waive crop loans of 55 lakh farmers in the state while extending the eligibility cut-off date to December 12, 2018 from previous March 31, 2018.

Under the scheme, farm loans up to Rs two lakh taken by farmers from nationalised, cooperative and regional banks, will be waived.

The crop loan waiver, a poll promise of the Congress, was announced hours after Kamal Nath took oath as chief minister of Madhya Pradesh in December last year.

The previous cut-off date of March 31, 2018 announced by the newly-formed government was criticised by the opposition BJP which said it would effectively mean many farmers staying out of the ambit of the loan waiver scheme.

Addressing a press conference after the Cabinet meeting here Saturday, Minister for Public Relations P C Sharma and his ministerial colleague Jitu Patwari said the benefits of the farm loan waiver would start reaching the farmers from February 22 this year.

“Cabinet today approved the farm loan waiver scheme for farmers. It also extended the cut-off date up to December 12, 2018 from previously announced March 31, 2018,” said Patwari.

He said farm loan defaulters from April 1, 2007 are included under the ambit of the scheme.

The ministers said the loan waiver would benefit about 55 lakh eligible farmers including about 35 lakh small and marginal agriculturists.

“Farm loans taken from cooperative, regional and nationalised banks are included under the purview of this scheme,” Patwari said.

Responding to a question, the minister said the cost of entire farm loan waiver scheme to the state exchequer is yet to be calculated.

“As per rough estimates, this scheme would cost somewhere between Rs 35,000- Rs 50,000-crore,” Patwari said.

He said chief executive officer of every block would be responsible for implementation of the loan waiver scheme.

“Eligible farmers will need to fill different forms as per the identity proofs they are having. A green form would be filled by those who have Aadhaar card and white form by those farmers who possess identity proofs other than Aadhaar card.

Farmers not having any ID proof will have to fill a pink coloured form,” he explained.

Patwari said the farmers who pay Income Tax, and those who are government employees, are not eligible to claim the loan waiver.

He said Cabinet has also cleared a proposal to increase the financial assistance provided under the ‘Kanyadan Yojana’ to Rs 51,000 from previous Rs 28,000.

Under the Kanyadan Yojana, the government provides the financial assistance for marriage of girls coming from poor families.

Meanwhile, former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has termed the extension of the farm loan waiver cut-off date as a victory of the BJP and farmers in the state.

“The increasing the cut-off date from March 31, 2018 to December 12, 2018 is the victory of farmers’ and our struggle. Now, I demand that government should take immediate action to compensate the farmers whose crops were damaged due to frost (sic),” tweeted Chouhan.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.